Canadian Government Pushes Cable Providers to Unbundle Channels

Posted on October 14, 2013 3:13 PM by Rob Williams

Well, it’s about time. The Canadian government might soon force cable and satellite TV providers to “unbundle” their offerings, in effect allowing consumers to pick and choose the channels they want. “We don’t think it’s right for Canadians to have to pay for bundled television channels that they don’t watch.” Who can disagree?

TV Channel Listing

There’s nothing “wrong” per se with channel bundles, but the fact of the matter is, most people take advantage of just a small fraction of the channels featured within them. If a football fan snags a sports-themed package, for example, channels revolving around tennis, golf or motor racing might go completely ignored. That person would in effect be paying for channels they have no use for, and they have no say in the matter if they want to keep the channels they do want.

If this plan becomes reality, then Canadian consumers are sure to benefit with lower pricing – that is, unless the “a la carte” options are priced appropriately, and not inflated simply because it’s a premium to be able to subscribe to channels that way.

All I know is… this needs to become a standard, everywhere.

  • xOptix78

    I hope that this applies to the base channels and not just channels that are currently only available in packages. We have basic Aliant FibreOp, and can probably count on two hands the number of base channels that I watch frequently. Hell, if it weren’t for my son, I’d probably be able to count them on one hand!

    • Rob Williams

      I couldn’t agree more. It seems kind of foolish to have cable with just a couple of channels, but so be it, really. What would be even odder though is renting a box for like $15/mo and only having a couple of channels ;-)

      • xOptix78

        I was thinking a bit more about this last night, and it’s probably in the cable company’s best interested to just bite the bullet and go with what the FCC says.

        There are so many people who have cancelled their cable subscription because they’re being charged too much for 20-30 channels that they don’t use. It might signal a mass return to cable TV for those who don’t want to be bothered with waiting a few hours or a day to download their favourite show. Hell, I’d PVR the hell out of my cable if I could pick and choose what’s in my package.

        Instead of offering the base channels and then adding on theme packages on top of that, they need to set it up so that there are tiers. Tier 1, the base tier gets you 15 channels (or however many is reasonable) and costs the least. Tier 2 costs another $5 or $7, it gives you another 5 channels. Something like that.

        I can understand that this might not cover the specialty channels like the NHL Centre Ice or things like that, but people who subscribe to that will do so regardless.

        • Rob Williams

          I was talking in IRC last night about this, comparing it to Netflix. That service is about $10 a month, and it offers an incredible selection to watch whenever you want. By contrast, cable costs well over $60 for a lot of people, and the content selection is really quite horrible – and you have you work your schedule around whenever a TV station wants to show you something.

          Cable has always been overpriced, but nowadays it’s almost silly.

          I like your idea though, and think it would work. The only reason I want cable is for sports, and I sure don’t want to pay $60+ for just that (especially in HD, it gets expensive). It’s not really ideal to even subscribe to certain sports online either, because it tends to cost as much as cable (it’s $240 for the NFL season).

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